October 29, 2014

Book Review: "Summer of the Long Knives" by L.S. Bassen

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Summer of the Long Knives

Summer of the Long Knives
By L.S. Bassen
Signal 8 Press
Reviewed by Jason Pettus

By now, of course, alt-history novels are nothing new, although unfortunately most of them suffer from the same problem; given that the majority of them are written by genre veterans, they tend to be heavily focused on their overly complex and action-oriented plots, and for the most part are lacking in other traditional literary elements such as character development and style. And that's what makes L.S. Bassen's Summer of the Long Knives so refreshing, because it actually does take the time to get all the little literary details right, creating a balanced and nuanced book by the end that just happens to be a mind-expanding "what-if" thriller as well. Presented to readers as an obscure modern historical tale, about a crazy military leader from the dark days of Germany's past named "Hitler," who scholars agree might've been a real threat if he hadn't been assassinated soon after coming to power, the novel itself plays out this scenario in a traditional three-act format, including such interesting characters as a Catholic priest who is actually heading up the assassination cabal, and a beautiful young woman who accidentally gains psychic abilities after being caught in a brownshirt beatdown in the Jewish section of town, imparting crucial information to the resistance group that helps them carry out their successful plot. But like I said, of equal interest is simply the complex, well-rounded looks at these characters that Bassen (a fiction editor at the prestigious Prick of the Spindle) provides, as well as the very real history lessons she imparts about all the Germans who violently disagreed with Nazi ideas during their rise to power, and how a big part of why they managed to take over was simply that they slaughtered the millions of liberals who disagreed with them. Briskly paced and always a fascinating read, this isn't the best book you will ever read on this subject, but certainly is a higher-than-average look at a classic scenario from the alt-reality chest of tricks, and it comes recommended to those who enjoy this genre and are looking for an especially smart example of it.

Out of 10: 8.8

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Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, October 29, 2014. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |